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Susan Dunham

1. What were John Morse and Andrew talking about Wednesday night? Morse just didn’t coincidently stumble into a double homicide – his presence and Emma’s absence set the stage for murder. Did the mysterious negotiation between Borden and his brother-in-law provide the motive?

Mr. Morse had come to the house to assist with the transfer of property to relatives of Andrew's wife Abby Borden, which Andrew intended to go through with despite the strongest possible objections having being raised by both his daughters.

2. How did Lizzie avoid leaving a blood trail after Abby’s murder? She didn’t have to go far, but blood drops are hard to staunch (ask OJ). The lack of blood trail from the guest room eliminates virtually anyone else from suspicion – Lizzie only had to walk 20 feet to the safety of her own room.

Head wounds do not bleed profusely, nor does blood spurt from them. Blood drops flew off the top of the hatchet onto the wall during Abby's murder, not onto Lizzie. And she wiped off the blood which remained on the hatchet with a handkerchief which she left on the guest room bed.

3. Was a note delivered to the Borden house on murder morning?

No, there's no evidence that one was, and there was no confirmation by Sarah Whitehead, the supposed writer of the note, that she had ever created one.

There is nothing in the record about a messenger, yet the legend of the young man getting the front door slammed in his face persists. Was the intercepted note an irretrievable mistake that sparked the rage killing of Abby Borden?

No, it was a fabrication told by Lizzie to her father intended to make him think his wife was not, in fact, lying dead in the guest room upstairs, but instead had gone out, so he would not venture up the front stairs to look for her.

4. What were the real contents of the note that Dr. Bowen burned?

Probably something he did not want to see possibly incriminate Lizzie, as he appears, for whatever reason, to have covered for her at every possible opportunity during the investigations and trial.

The good Doctor’s furtive reading/burning of the note about his “daughter” just doesn’t fly. Was this the note from #3?

Again, the fact that Sarah Whitehead did not acknowledge the existence of a note supposedly written by her supports the fact that one never existed.

Too bad Fall River’s finest didn’t do a better job of protecting the crime scene so evidence couldn’t be destroyed.

Fall River's finest were all (conveniently) on a picnic that day. The officers that were present were more than lackluster, they were foolish enough to completely ignore bloody pails in the cellar at Dr. Bowen's word that Lizzie was having her period.

5. Did Andrew have a will or was he having one made?

It is likely, yes, and it's also likely Lizzie destroyed it, rolling it up and burning it in the stove on the day of the murders.

Another persistent rumor that’s more than just a red herring – this is the most logical topic of discussion from #1. Why would John Morse not volunteer this information if he was assisting Andrew in dividing up his estate?

Because it would very likely condemn his niece to death if he did, and considering the will had disappeared, among other things, he probably did conclude she was responsible and therefore in pretty deep trouble -- though without having seen anything with his own eyes, he couldn't be absolutely sure of what had truly gone on. Which is why, upon returning to the house, he asked, "Lizzie, how could this happen?" rather than "Who did this?"

6. Was the handless hatchet the murder weapon?

Yes, Lizzie used it to kill Abby, then washed it and sawed off its head in the cellar, then rolled the head in ashes and placed it in a toolbox.

Robinson did a superb job of rendering this hatchet irrelevant at trial – when you consider the expert witnesses all agreed it fit the wounds, the wood break was new, and the coating of ash did not match the dust on the other items.

The wood was not broken but sawed.

7. What did Alice Russell know about missing evidence? Her cryptic comments about the house search resonate – she told both Churchill and Kelly that police didn’t search thoroughly enough. She could have done her own search during the funeral – did she examine that “bundle” in Emma’s closet?

She knew Lizzie had given a different dress to police than the one she had seen her wearing on the morning of the murders. Both dresses were blue but the one offered as evidence was of "bengaline silk," not Bedford cord cotton.

8. Did Lizzie act alone or did someone help her commit murder? A conspiracy is unlikely but can’t be ruled out – especially during Andrew’s murder. Bridget, Emma, Morse, Bowen etc all had either motive or opportunity. Lizzie certainly killed Abby – did someone else knock off the old man?

No, Lizzie acted alone. Bridget had no hint of a motive and Emma had been staying in the next town.

9. Why did Detective Shaw privately interview Lizzie in May? Conventional wisdom says he warned her about shoplifting – could this meeting have a more sinister undertone? The daylight robbery? Something Lizzie did or said that was a harbinger of murder?

Not sure of the relevance here.

10. Why did Lizzie stay in a boarding house just before the murders?

Because a heated family row had taken place on the subject of Andrew's dispensation of property to Abby's family which the daughters felt should be rightfully theirs. This resulted in both daughters leaving, in objection to Andrew's unwillingness to alter his decision.

Bizarre and scandalous. Instead of going to Marion she hung out in New Bedford flop house for several days.

Well, anything but go back home and suggest she was OK with her father's decision to give away the summer home.

She eventually went to Marion but was restless enough to return to Fall River the same day.

She was more than restless. Emma had gone and apparently decided to stay away a while, maybe for good. Lizzie, however, decided to take action to change the circumstances -- she made a clear decision to go back and do something to prevent property she wanted from being given away. And when she found cyanide was unavailable at the drugstore, she chose to use a more hands-on method to solve her problem.

Faye Musselman

I shriek. I stumble. I phaint to the phloor.
There are so many errors in those responses I can not bear it. I can not bear it, I tell you. Ohhhhh, where ARE my smelling salts? Allow me to recline on this phainting couch whilst someone prepares me a cup of tea.

Placing a cool cloth to my phorehead, I bid adieu.

Faye Musselman
Payson, AZ

carole gill

This is terrific! So many questions and answers that in my opinion sound like the truth.
I certainly think they're intelligent and well thought out enough not to be the subject of ridicule as in the over the top "comment" that follows them.
Just my opinion we're all entitled to our own opinions after all.


That's what I love about this case. Earnest, knowledgeable folk can vehemently disagree on the "known" facts - forget the unaswered questions.

carole gill

If we stopped discussing this and other mysterious cases of murder we'd have nothing to discuss I guess.
Unanswered questions will remain unanswered. We can at best only try to fill in the blanks as best we can, going by the information available.


I disagree about headwounds not bleeding profusely. I had glass thrown at me as a child and it cut my scalp and I bled like a stuck pig for hours. Abby's photo is so grim I can't bear to look at it, and there's plenty of blood.


well i didnt read this thing but im doing a reaserch paper cant use this site have to use books but i think lizzies father andrww borden abused her and her mother knew but didnt do anything...soo thats y she killed em..soo durr,lol\


jillian sacco 2008.

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